Jharkhand ‘treats Christians as terrorists’

Church efforts to protect tribal lands are viewed as a major reason for official hostility.

(File Photo)

Bhopal: All nine Catholic bishops of India’s northeastern Jharkhand state have sought federal intervention to stop Christians being treated like terrorists as part of alleged state government harassment.

The bishops told governor Draupadi Murmu, who is the representative of the Indian president, that the state government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had used its Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) to probe Christian institutions.

On July 30, three days after meeting Murmu, they also sent a memorandum to federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking his assistance on the issue.

“We are now treated as terrorists and officials of the ATS are after us as if we are involved in terrorist activities,” Auxiliary Bishop Telesphore Bilung of Ranchi, who organized the meeting, told ucanews.com.

He said for the past few months, police had been arresting church people on trumped-up charges and investigators had raided Christian groups in “clear state-sponsored harassment.”

In some cases, the ATS served notices on Christian institutions ordering them to produce financial details within 24-hours, the bishop said.

State police spokesperson R. K. Mallick termed the claims of the Christian leaders as “absurd”.

The inquiries were being conducted on orders of the federal home ministry to investigate 88 Christian non-governmental agencies in the state, he told media representatives.

The head of the ATS and the head of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) is the same person.

“Notices may have been issued by him on ATS letterhead, but it is the CID that is inquiring,” Mallick said.

The federal order for investigations came following allegations from the state government and influential Hindus groups that Christian institutions were diverting funds for the purpose of securing religious conversions in violation of a state law.

It was also claimed that funds were being used to support the Pathalgadi tribal movement that seeks greater autonomy from both the federal and state governments.

Christians had been targeted for their faith and faced violent attacks, false accusations and arbitrary actions by various government functionaries, said the memorandum to the federal home minister.

Indian Bishops’ Conference secretary general Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas has shared a copy of the memorandum and confirmed it was mailed to the federal home minister.

These institutions, working for the poor, receive foreign funding through banks in compliance with India’s Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act and submit their audit reports annually to federal officials as well as filing income tax returns regularly, the memorandum said.

It was surprising that a criminal investigation had been launched even though the federal government had verified all the accounts and renewed permissions to receive funding, it added.

Bishop Mascarenhas said it was alarming that several non-governmental agencies receive foreign funding, but only Christians are being investigated.

The government is unleashing violence against those who follow a different ideology, which is not good for our country,” he told ucanews.com.

Christian leaders say the state government supports the ideology of Hindu groups working to make India a nation of Hindu hegemony.

Jharkhand has close to one million Christians, almost all of them tribal people, in a population of 32 million.

Church leaders believe that the government was angered over Christian leaders playing a crucial role in forcing withdrawal of an attempt to amend two state laws that protect tribal land.

Source: UCAN

Mother Teresa nuns explain Ranchi incident

The nuns “are open to any free, fair and just inquiry,” Sister Prema said in a July 17 press release.

Kolkata: The superior of the Missionaries of Charity congregation, Sister Prema, has explained the events leading to the arrest of a nun on charges of baby selling in Ranchi, and expressed “full trust” in the process of law.

The nuns “are open to any free, fair and just inquiry,” she said in a July 17 press release.

“We have full faith in the courts of law and the investigating authorities and are confident that justice shall prevail,” the release said.

Here is the full text of the Press Release.


(Missionaries of Charity Mother House, Kolkata- July 17, 2018)

We are deeply saddened and grieved by the recent developments at Missionaries of Charity Home – Nirmal Hriday at East Jail Road, Ranchi’ Even while we place our full trust in the judicial process that is underway, we wish to express regret and sorrow for what happened and desire to express in unequivocal terms our condemnation of individual actions which have nothing to do with the congregation of the Missionaries of charity.

we are fully cooperating with the investigations and are open to any free, fair and just inquiry. In this context, specially in view of the many myths being spread, information distorted and false news being diffused and baseless innuendos being thrown about regarding the Mother Teresa Sisters, it is expedient to lay down the the turn events as hey actually transpired.

Sr. Concelia MC (the arrested nun) was appointed as the sister-in-charge of the ‘unwed mothers’ section at Nirmal Hriday. East Jail Road. Ranchi on June 06, 201’1′ She was responsible for admission, hospitalization. Counselling, record keeping, accompanying mothers and babies to CWC’ when necessary and for discharge of the unwed mothers from the Home.

Mrs. Anima Indwar (the staff member arrested) began working at Nirmal Hriday from January 2012. Initially, she worked as as a ward helper and then as a staff member to care for the unwed mothers. She learnt the work very well and ably assisted Sr. Concelia MC. Mrs. Anima Indwar thus, came to enjoy the trust of the Sisters at Nirmal Hriday. As and when Sr. Concelia MC got engaged in pressing responsibilities, Mrs. Anima Indwar would escort the unwed mothers, their babies and their guardians to Sadar Hospital, RIMS and CWC Office as and when required, by herself.

On June 29.2018, at around 12.30 pm, the child Protection officer Ms. Seema and other Social Welfare officers about five of them came to Nirmal Hriday. They called for the admission and attendance registers containing information about the inmates at the Home. They seized the registers and records maintained by Nirmal Hriday without providing the receipt for such seizure to the Home.

From the records maintained for unwed mothers, the said officials particularly enquired about Ms. Karishma Toppo and her baby. Mrs. Karishma Toppo had taken admission in Nirmal Hriday on March 19, 2018 and had delivered her baby on May 01,2018. After her delivery. Ms. Karishma Toppo had declared in the Home’s register that she would surrender her child to CWC. Mrs. Anima Indwar, Ms. Karishma Toppo and her guardian thus took the baby from Nirmal Hriday to surrender the child. Neither Nirmal Hriday nor the Sisters had any way to ascertain whether the child was actually surrendered to CWC. This is because CWC as matter of practice did not give any acknowledgment to the Home after obtaining the custody of a child from an unwed mother.

On July 03, 2018, Mrs. Anima Indwar when summoned by CWC admitted that Ms. Karishma Toppo’s child was not surrendered to CWC. Upon such admission, she was handed over to the police by CWC. Mrs. Karishma Toppo’s child too was surrendered to CWC by Mrs. Anima Indwar and Ms. Karishma Toppo on the same day.

On July 4, 2018, Sr. Concelia MC and and Sr. Marie Deanne MC, Superior of Nirmal Hriday were also questioned by the police. Sr. Concelia was arrested by the police while Sr. Marie Deanne MC after being kept in police custody till 7 PM the next day was finally let off.

On the evening of July 04. 2018 CWC along with Child Protection Officer. Ms. Seema without serving any notice to Nirmal Hriday. carried away the 11 unwed mothers, one unwed mother along with her baby and one guardian from the home. The said women were subjected to utmost humiliation and public embarrassment by the officials as they were carried in f1ll view of the media.

For reasons unknown, our Sishu Bhawan Home at Hinoo was raided by CWC with a police force consisting about 7 members on July 06, 2018. 22 children lodged in the said Home were carried away by CWC, which included a one month old baby. One such baby took very ill in the custody of CWC and was admitted in the ICU at Rani Hospital. The records and registers of this Home too were carried away by the officials without providing the Home a receipt of such seizure. It is distressing that CWC has meted out such treatment to a Home, which its officials themselves had described as having an “excellent environment for the care of children” only about two weeks before.

The Missionaries of Charity, following the footsteps of our foundress St. Mother Teresa is caring for the poor, destitute and the afflicted since 1950. Today. there are 5,167 sisters, both active and contemplative, with 760 houses in 139 countries. The Missionaries of Charity have 244 houses in India including those in Jharkhand.

Our works include running homes for leprosy patients, TB patients, AIDS patients, physically and mentally challenged children and adults, night shelters, indoor primary health care facilities, homes for women in distress, girls in danger, abandoned pregnant women, for women whom poverty and starvation have driven into the streets.

The Congregation of Missionaries of Charity vows to continue their whole-hearted and free service to the poorest of the poor by serving the needy and vulnerable even in the middle of the unprecedented and unfounded criticism that it faces today. We have full faith in the courts of law and the investigating authorities and are confident that justice shall prevail.
We pray for all those who have been hurt by the recent developments and we ask God to bless all those who are standing by us in these painful and difficult moments, and we lift up to God in prayer all people of goodwill.

May our Mother, St. Teresa of Calcutta intercede for us before our Almighty Father.
Sr. M. Prema MC
Superior General

Courtesy: UCAN

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